Across the globe, the fashion industry’s carbon footprint has a tremendous impact on the environment. In fact, if the mainstream fashion houses continue their unsustainable industrial manufacturing practices, it could result in 2.7 billion metric tons of annual carbon emissions by 2031, according to recent reports. This is why ethical and sustainable clothing brands are increasingly popular with environmentally minded consumers.
To meet demand, large apparel companies often use the “fast fashion” mass-production model to slash costs as much as possible. But this cheap, accelerated process also leads to wasteful resource consumption and labor exploitation. If no actions are taken to change that trajectory, serious climate risks and unjust factory conditions will only worsen.
What Is the Solution to the Dangers of Fast Fashion?
Fortunately, to combat this issue, ethical and sustainable clothing brands have increased in availability. These fashion labels prove that chic, wearable, quality garments can be made with both the consumer and planet in mind.
Not only do ethical designers have their fingers on the pulse of each new trend, but they also are committed to the well-being of humans, animals and the earth as a whole. So how do environmentally conscious clothing brands practice sustainability? Here are some ways their manufacturing differs from the mainstream:
- Prioritizing safe working conditions, labor law compliance and fair compensation across each funnel in the supply chain
- Responsibly using water, energy and other natural resources
- Disposal of textile chemicals in a non-hazardous way
- Locally source materials from regions and producers where they originate
- The use of animal-based materials is humane or not at all
- Using recycled fabrics, materials and resources whenever possible to minimize the accumulation of landfill waste and air pollution
- Portions of revenue donated towards philanthropic causes or organizations
So on this note, below are five ethical and sustainable clothing brands in the U.S. to check out if you want to help the environment and look stylish while doing it too!
Where to Shop for Environmentally Conscious Clothing
This lounge and activewear company in New York City uses all plant-based materials with no synthetic or animal fibers. Each garment features a comfortable blend of organic cotton, soy, wood pulp, bamboo and nontoxic dyes. Miakoda partners with ethical vendors who support their factory workers with equitable wages, health insurance and other job benefits. The brand also values body shape inclusion and offers a range in sizes from XS–4XL.
This minimalist fashion label, owned by Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneur Jasmine Rennie, combines modesty with bold, creative expression and sustainable design. The Los Angeles-based company sources its materials from deadstock fabric (unused fashion house surplus), then manufactures in small batches to ensure ideal working conditions. For each sale, 50 cents is then donated to help rescue children from human trafficking.
This colorful, bohemian-style brand partners with ethical suppliers in both NYC and India to create garments with no carbon footprint. All the materials used are entirely vegan and biodegradable such as banana fiber, linen and GOTS-certified organic cotton. Milo+Niki is also on the frontlines of equal labor rights and fair-trade advocacy, which are upheld at all manufacturing touchpoints.
4. Studio 189
This Black-owned fashion studio operates in Ghana and the U.S. to produce African-inspired clothes with textiles sourced directly from local Ghanaian communities. These artisans use raw materials, plant-based dyes and craftsmen techniques native to their region. Many fabrics are recycled from unique elements, too, such as leather made out of pineapple leaves. Studio 189 also offers skill training and job creation initiatives throughout Ghana.
This handmade clothing and jewelry collective was started by designer Bethany Yellowtail, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation in Montana. After a career in private fashion labels, Yellowtail found her eponymous brand to empower Indigenous creatives and protect the earth’s resources. All garments are sustainably made by Yellowtail or curated by other Native artists to stimulate their economic opportunities as well.
Ethical and Sustainable Fashion Makes a Difference
From casual activewear to move and sweat in, to artisanal designs to feel chic and special in, there are so many versatile ethical and sustainable clothing brands to choose from. These five companies, in particular, are making an enormous impact on the health of this planet and the lives of humanity. So look no further for environmentally conscious clothing at its most fashionable—and of course, sustainable.